Let me tell you all a little story about a dessert that changed my life. One which, and I’m not kidding about this, made Rob cry the first time we
devoured enjoyed it.
I’ve always been a fan of bread pudding. Rarely has it steered me wrong. But Rob? Not such a fan. He’s a texture person. And to him, the idea of “bread” and “pudding” don’t go together.
I understand this, from an intellectual point of view. Sorta.
But during our last trip to Walt Disney World, there was no way he wasn’t trying it. See, we had the extreme good fortune of scoring a reservation at ‘Ohana, at The Polynesian Resort. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a challenge to get in there unless you reserve, literally, 5 – 6 months in advance.
The most famous item on ‘Ohana’s hugely popular menu? The Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.
It is rightly famous. This bread pudding is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. Sweet but not too sweet. Lots of eggs = lots of richness. It’s fairly simple, yet delicious. I used pineapple bread (another ‘Ohana recipe) but you can use regular bread and add the pineapple and coconut.
Then there’s the sauce.
The pudding’s good but the secret’s in the sauce. Oh boy is it ever.
Don’t be afraid to make the sauce yourself. I had never made a caramel sauce prior to this but found that as long as I kept it to a low boil, I was okay. Don’t boil it too hard or I imagine you’ll quickly end up with a burned sauce. You want a nice thick coating on your spoon – and it’ll thicken up more as it cools.
Be careful tasting it. It’s very hot when it’s cooking. Not that I know that from experience.
So you have a nice, warm hunk of bread pudding. You add some banana slices and a scoop of vanilla ice cream which immediately starts to melt and get all drippy.
But then? You slowly pour some rich, golden goodness over top. It melts the ice cream and invades every nook and cranny of the pudding. Together the individual components become a symphony. One which you’ll want to last forever and ever.
But no good thing lasts forever, so you may want to eventually stop eating. As difficult as that may be.
*Note: The original recipe called for 1 cup – 1 CUP! – of rum. Let me tell you, I followed it to the letter the first time and oh my fire-breathing lord. I’m a big fan of rum but it was way too much. I found that a splash or two is just enough – though you can always add more! 😉
Adapted from AllEars.net
3 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup sweetened coconut
8 cups Challah or French bread (or Hawaiian pineapple bread*)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure bread is thoroughly soaked in custard mixture. Spread into a greased 9×13 pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream and Bananas Foster sauce.
*If you use the pineapple bread, exclude the pineapple, coconut and 1/2 cup of sugar.
Bananas Foster Sauce
Adapted from AllEars.net
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1-2 tbs spiced rum, or to taste
1 cup sliced bananas
Combine everything but 1/2 cup cream and rum in a medium saucepan. Melt together slowly over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and cook for a few minutes, then add remaining cream and rum. Continue to simmer until sauce is a warm caramel color and thickly coats the back of a spoon – around 8 to 10 minutes. You can turn the heat up and cook more quickly but the low heat will help to avoid burning the sugar if you’re not used to working with caramel.
Remove sauce from heat and add banana slices. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
If you have a minute…over a week ago I shared a piece called “I Need to Believe“, which focused on how even though as I’ve grown up and have had to let go of certain childish beliefs (especially as they pertain to my parents), I still need to believe that my Dad is going to get better and leave the hospital soon. That piece is a finalist in the Writer’s Week contest. Voting is open til 9/30/2011, 11:59 EDT – if you could spare a vote for me here, I’d be forever grateful!
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